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VAM-Velferd, arbeid og migrasjon

Making the green shift work for regions

Alternative title: Å gjøre det grønne skifte mulig for regioner

Awarded: NOK 12.0 mill.

Our project aims to develop a new understanding of how regional labour markets are adapting to the grand challenge of Green Shift. We will go beyond national and industry forecasts by recognising that responding to this challenge will be region specific processes of adaptation and change. Labour markets vary between places, operating and performing differently based on their industrial histories and employment and skills profiles. As such, our project seeks to better integrate localities and regions, labour markets and working lives as central elements within green shift, rather than merely as outcomes of this transition. We do this by exploring the regional skills ecosystem concept in Oil & Gas specialised regions. A region’s skills ecosystem examines how the often place-specific demands of industry and employers interact and evolve over time with supplies of workers, skills and intermediaries. As the green shift unfolds, the ways in which different regional skills ecosystems adapt and change will vary and have important implications for processes of regional competitiveness and labour market inclusion. Our project provides a novel international comparative analysis of three O&G regions at the forefront of the energy transition within different national policy contexts of Norway and Scotland. We will combine industry-wide secondary data analysis with in-depth regional case studies of Rogaland, Trøndelag and Northeast Scotland, to develop a systematic understanding of how local and regional labour markets evolve and adapt with the transition to new low-carbon energy landscapes. The research is designed with the ambition of informing policy, based on detailed in-depth research leading to the identification of the most effective policy measures for an inclusive and effective labour market transition. More broadly, we believe the project will address the relative neglect of labour and labour markets within social science research on sustainability transitions.

The importance of labour market restructuring and employment outcomes is recognised in policy debates on green shift, inclusion and ‘just transition’. However, it remains understudied in the academic literature on energy transition. In response, this proposal develops a geographical labour market approach to energy transition, building upon the applicants’ previous interdisciplinary work across the oil and gas sector, renewable energies and labour market adaptation. Based on an international comparative case study of the three O&G regions of Rogaland, Trøndelag and Northeast Scotland, the project will develop a new understanding of how regional labour markets adapt to the challenge of green shift. Our analytical framework builds on the concept of regional skills ecosystems to capture the dynamic relations that regulate employment and skills. The skills ecosystem is a network of interrelated institutions and actors with evolving interactions, roles, and resources are constantly changing. The approach emphasizes both the demand side and the supply side of the labour market. Thus, inspired by the recent debates on challenge-oriented approaches to regional innovation systems, we will explore whether labour market and skills ecosystems need to similarly reorientate and transform from O&G to low-carbon energy industries. The project will provide a better understanding of the geographically uneven process of energy transition from a just transitions perspective. During green transitions, some occupational, social and age groups are likely to be included, whereas others are excluded. Our approach encompasses not only the opportunities for workers moving from O&G to green jobs, but also the creation of a more diverse and adaptive workforce in the face of an uncertain transition. The project offers both a timely and significant opportunity to better understand the scope of policy intervention to support the adaptive capacity of regional labour markets.

Funding scheme:

VAM-Velferd, arbeid og migrasjon